WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) has asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to provide details on a series of contracts awarded to a St. Louis company that has an uncle of President Bush on its board of directors.
In a letter sent to Rumsfeld on Thursday, Waxman asked for copies of all military contracts awarded to Engineered Support Systems Inc. and a briefing on the process used to award those pacts. William H.T. "Bucky" Bush, an uncle of the president, has served on Engineered Support's board of directors since 2000.
In his letter, Waxman cited a Feb. 23 Los Angeles Times article that reported some ESSI contracts were awarded without bids and disclosed that the president's uncle recently cashed in $450,000 worth of stock options in the defense firm.
"These relationships and the sole-source nature of the contracts raise questions about the processes by which these contracts were awarded and administered," Waxman wrote in the letter.
Department of Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Keck said he had not seen the letter written by Congressman Waxman but that Rumsfeld routinely responded to such requests as quickly as possible. "And I'm sure he will do so with this one," Keck said.
Waxman also asked Rumsfeld to provide details on why some of the ESSI contracts were recently referred to the department's inspector general for further review.
A Pentagon official said last week that the contracts were submitted for review because of unspecified anomalies.
ESSI officials did not respond to a request for comment, but company officials have previously stated that the inspector general's review had been ordered because some of the contracts were sole-source awards.
The defense contractor has a dozen different operating units and has been awarded numerous contracts, many of them directly related to U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among the Iraq-related contracts were recent awards to refurbish military trailers and to provide armor protection kits for military vehicles being used in the conflict.
William Bush did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. In a previous interview, the president's uncle said he never used his family connections to help the company win contracts.
"I don't make any calls to the 202 area code," he said, referring to Washington.
William Bush is the youngest brother of the president's father, former president George H. W. Bush.
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